News / Arts & Entertainment

Historic US Route 66 Still Sparks Wanderlust

Historic US Route 66 Still Sparks Wanderlusti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
August 06, 2014 10:47 PM
Route 66, the legendary highway from Chicago to Los Angeles, offered a road to a better life for many Americans, and became a symbol of wanderlust in 20th century. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, the highway, called the main street of America, is the focus of an exhibit in Los Angeles.
Mike O'Sullivan

Route 66, the legendary highway from Chicago to Los Angeles, offered a road to a better life for many Americans, and became a symbol of wanderlust in 20th century. The highway, called the main street of America, is the focus of an exhibit in Los Angeles.  

Route 66 covered nearly 4,000 kilometers of the American heartland and West, and generations came westward on this route long before it became a paved highway.  

The writer John Steinbeck called it the "Mother Road," and it became a symbol of freedom for 1950s Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac, author of On the Road.

Great migration

His manuscript, typed on a 35-meter scroll, is on display at the Autry National Center of the American West, which has put on the Route 66 exhibit.

Also there is Woody Guthrie's guitar. The folk singer was one of many who celebrated the highway, which offered an escape from drought-stricken Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s.

“That 66 highway is mighty hard. All day you're hot, all night you freeze. But we've got to have work so we're taking a chance from old Oklahoma to Los Angeles,” sang Guthrie.

Jazz musician Bobby Troup was another who celebrated the highway, with this 1946 hit. “It winds from Chicago to L.A. More than 2,000 miles all the way. Get your kicks on Route 66.”

Cross-country expansion

Curator Jeffrey Richardson said much of the country's growth in the west during the 1940s and '50s happened along the highway.

“In the explosion in American society that took place in the post-world War II period, an explosion of economics, of people, Route 66 really became both a major thoroughfare to move people across the country, but it was also a popular tourist destination,” he said.

The road captured the country's imagination in the 1960s television series Route 66.

But by then, the highway's importance began to fade. President Dwight D. Eisenhower spearheaded the construction of a national interstate highway system in the 1950s and as the system grew, it bypassed more and more sections of Route 66.   In 1985, the route was officially decommissioned, but much of the old road still exists.

For most who travel the route west, the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California, is the end of the journey.

Dan Rice sells Route 66 souvenirs on the Santa Monica Pier, and has traveled on the road many times.

“I've done it 29 times now. That's from beginning to end, Chicago to Los Angeles. If we were counting just the times that I did it through the Southwest, I can't even count. I've done it a lot,” he said.

Romantic travelogue

Rice said Route 66 still draws tourists who want to drive the route and others who want to enjoy its romance.

“To get out in the middle of Kansas and Oklahoma and the Panhandle of Texas and New Mexico, and just see the land rolling on and on and on, and nothing but you and the sky and the wind in your hair, it's pretty great,” said Rice.

Autry Center curator Jeffrey Richardson said Route 66 is an American symbol around the world.

“And since we've put this exhibition on, I've had friends and colleagues who have traveled across the world, who have sent me pictures of Route 66 shields and other things in cafes in Paris,” he said.

Dan Rice has met tourists from Norway, Saudi Arabia and Australia who have come to make the journey. And for people in Los Angeles, the westward end of the highway, the freedom and adventure of Route 66 still beckons.

 

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the latest edition of "Beyond Category" blues singer and guitarist Corey Harris performs with his band and talks about his travels in West Africa tracing the roots of the blues.